Broadband width, Zoom links, barking dogs and endless snacking! “Frozen” describes screen status, not just Disney movies. And like Elsa we wish we could “let it go”; instead, we rush “into the unknown”. This is parenting in the era of COVID-19.
Some new routines for you and your family may be welcome. Family time, a slower pace, increased exercise, and reading a good book can be benefits of the quarantine life. However, the competing priorities of e-Learning, employment demands, and childcare lead to many unexpected demands for both children and parents. School schedules, working from home, and quarantine countdowns have become part of the family calendar.
Parents hope to look over and see their children doing fine despite difficult circumstances. As parents we want to know we are protecting our children in uncertain times even as we try to absorb the changes and challenges the epidemic has brought. Perhaps it helps parents feel reassured that the virus will not impact the well-being of the children. How is COVID-19 impacting children? Here are some current facts.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Children: Infection Rates
- As of 11/24/20 there were more than 144,000 new cases of COVID-19 reported among U.S. children 17 years of age and under in the previous 7 days (11/12/20 – 11/19/20) according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
- In that time period there was a 28% increase in child COVID-19 cases with children accounting for more than 11% of all confirmed cases in the US. Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report (aap.org)
- Children with corona virus infection may have few or no symptoms. Younger children seem to have minimal risk of serious illness.
- We may not know the actual prevalence of the virus in children. Because children do not develop serious illness, they may not be tested to confirm a diagnosis, even when a child has symptoms.
- Children who have corona virus infection may be asymptomatic and may infect others. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-in-babies-and-children/art-20484405
The Impact of COVID-19 on Children: The Importance of School
Safe and consistent school attendance has been a goal and a challenge since the onset of the epidemic in March 2020. Currently local school boards, parents and public health departments are charged with determining when schools are open. In July 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Education Association (NEA) and The School
Superintendents Association issued a joint statement endorsing the safe return of students, teachers, and staff to schools. In part, this statement read:
“Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff,”.
“Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools.”
“The pandemic has reminded so many what we have long understood: that educators are invaluable in children’s lives and that attending school in person offers children a wide array of health and educational benefits.”
While these statements are all true, they do not provide definitive guidance for parents to make decisions about their child’s school attendance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a decision tree to assist school districts (and parents) in determining when safe in-person schooling is possible. Key components include:
- Masks, Cleaning, Hand-washing, Social Distancing, Daily Screening
- Local infection rates; State and local orders
- Protecting high risk individual children and adults
- Case tracking For updated information please see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html
Positive Steps to Managing Uncertain Situations with Children
- Remaining calm helps children feel safe and secure. Sometimes it may be necessary to fake it!
- The best plans are those that allow for flexibility, change of direction and temporary set-backs.
- Enjoy simple, every day moments. Realistic expectations are the paving stones of the road to success.
Check This Out
Two moms who are psychologists share science-based information and webinars: Pandemic Parenting (pandemic-parent.org)
See the CRG website for additional resources. Stay safe and keep yourself informed.